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Being in tune (or not) with intonato and stonato

Both words we want to talk about in this lesson have to do with the root word tono (tone). It means pretty much the same thing in both languages.

Ora delle due è una: o mi sta raccontando una balla adesso o mi ha preso in giro sin dall'inizio. Questo tono con me! Si rende conto che questa è insubordinazione?

Now it's one of the two: Either you're bullshitting me now, or you've been giving me the runaround from the beginning. This tone with me! Do you realize that this is insubordination?

Captions 13-16, Il Commissario Manara S1EP8 - Morte di un buttero - Part 12

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We use the words  tono and "tone" a lot in music, too. Un tono is a whole tone or whole step of a scale. In Western music, for example, we have a series of whole tones and semi tones — toni e semitoni — that make up a particular musical scale. 

Remaining in the realm of music, the verb intonare can mean "to start singing." 

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When someone sings the right notes, with accurate relationships between the notes, we can say this person is intonato  or  intonata (in tune). He or she has good intonazione (intonation). 

 

When the opposite happens, when someone is not singing in tune, he is stonato, she is stonata. So once again, we have the S prefix that transforms a word into one with an opposite meaning. If this use of S at the beginning of a word is unfamiliar to you, check out this lesson

 

In the example below, Martino, the guitarist, hears a woman singing onstage. He complains:

Ma quella è stonata.

But she's out of tune.

Caption 4, Chi m'ha visto film - Part 2

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In Italian, we often use the verbs intonare and stonare or their past participles, intonato and stonato in a figurative way, or in referring to colors and designs, anything, really. In the example below, it's used with a reflexive si.

 

La sua maglietta non si intona col mio rossetto e quindi Le metto sette.

Your t-shirt doesn't harmonize with my lipstick, and so I'm giving you a seven.

Caption 92, L'Italia a tavola Interrogazione sulla Liguria

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In this next example, an acquaintance of the famous film directors, the Taviani brothers, is describing how they were and how they worked together. 

Erano sempre, ehm, eleganti, se si può dire la parola usata in maniera e... appunto non manierata, ma in maniera intonata no, sempre intonati, ecco.

They were always, uh, elegant, if one can use the word used in a manner and... just that, not mannered, but in a manner — harmonious, right? Always harmonious, that's it.

Captions 45-49, Fratelli Taviani La passione e l'utopia - Part 8

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In a recent episode of Meraviglie, Alberto Angela uses the verb stonare figuratively, imagining what kind of play could be performed in the piazza of Lecce, a piazza that is reminiscent of a theatrical stage. 

Tutto sembra disposto e ornato per un lieve gioco teatrale. Una commedia di Goldoni non vi stonerebbe.

Everything seems set up and decorated for a lighthearted play. A Goldoni play would not be out of place here.

Captions 9-10, Meraviglie S2 EP3 - Part 7

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So we can use stonare to mean "to clash," "to go together poorly." 

 

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Another noun, stemming from tono, is sintonia, which is used quite a bit in Italian when talking about people who are on the same wavelength, who seem to be in sync. For example, when two people are thinking the same thing at the same time.

Loro due sono in sintonia (Those two are attuned to each other, they're on the same wavelength).

 

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Vocabulary

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